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Entries in Patricia Glynn (35)

Friday
Dec172010

A Christmas Tree with a Healthy Glow

By Patricia Glynn

If your gym is anything like mine, it’s probably all decked out with snowmen, ornaments, lush poinsettias, and other seasonal trappings. All signs point toward this being the most wonderful, joyous time of the year.

Yet, while holiday decorations are admittedly merry and pleasant to behold, they’re more apt to fill one’s head with visions of sugarplums (and candy canes, and sugar cookies, and gingerbread houses) than thoughts of fitness. That is, of course, unless the display in question happens to honor the season while serving as a tribute to active living.

Enter the “Tree-Cycle.”

The 23’ tree, constructed from 100 bicycles, serves as the centerpiece of The Rocks, a popular shopping center in Sydney, Australia. It not only twinkles merrily in the night, but it also, simultaneously, celebrates movement. After all, gazing upon the innovative exhibit’s dozens of bikes, you can’t help but imagine yourself zipping along with the wind in your hair, the wheels spinning furiously beneath you.

All told, the project took eight weeks to design and build. It’s also “green” in more ways than one—all the parts were supplied by locally-based CMA Recycling and the bikes’ frames were painted a bold green shade to mimic a real tree. The tires, too, got a dousing of color—a rainbow of shades make them appear as if they are festive ornaments. Even a star, fashioned from various recycled bicycle parts, sparkles atop the highest bough.

Overall, it is, perhaps, the ultimate fitness-centric holiday display. 

And it leads us to wonder: how might your club celebrate the holidays in a fitness-minded way? Could a medicine-ball snowman or maybe some cheerfully colored thera-band bows get your members in the holiday spirit while also inspiring them to keep fit?

Wednesday
Dec012010

Here’s What ‘Elderly’ Can Look Like

By Patricia Glynn

I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman about the subject of aging—or, more precisely, what she believes happens to us as we age.

According to this particular 75-year-old lady, getting older equates, with no exception, to decline. In other words, watch out! Because the worst, she menacingly warned me, is yet to come.

It was, I’ll admit, easy to understand her rather dour opinion: she shuffles along with a walker, plagued by a dowager’s hump. She also suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a thyroid condition. So truth be told, I suppose her rather curmudgeonly perspective on the topic was to be expected.

But does getting older really mean the best years of our life are already behind us?

Perhaps the best way to answer this query is to consider another “elderly” woman: Ernestine Shepherd.

At 74, Shepherd is vibrant and vital. It’s almost inconceivable to think the word elderly actually applies to her. She is, in harsh contrast to the stereotypical grandmotherly figure, a stunning woman who flaunts a taut tummy and enviable biceps. And while she could easily be dismissed as an anomaly, she is, in fact, an example of what old age can look like—that is, if we are willing to be proactive (emphasis on the “active”).

As she rightfully observes, “Life is what you make of it.” Simply put, our choices, the good as well as the not-so-great, dictate, to a certain extent, how our life, as well as our body, will turn out. If you eat a junk-laden diet and do your very best couch potato imitation, for instance, the odds of aging healthfully will be greatly reduced.

Cognizant of the decisions-influence-outcomes phenomenon, Shepherd strives to choose wisely—particularly when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Up at about 4 a.m., she begins her morning with a smile and a song (“I’m very happy,” she confides) before heading out, on most days, to Randallstown, Maryland’s Energy Fitness Center for either a workout or a session with a client—she’s a certified personal trainer. Along with three days of weight-lifting (she can bench-press upwards of 150 pounds!), she also runs—“10 miles each day, Monday through Saturday.” Shepherd, who consumes 1,700 calories per day and takes no supplements apart from vitamin D, averages a 9-minute mile. She has competed in a number of races, including eight marathons. New York and Boston, she reveals, are next on the list. “The old lady’s comin’,” she promises.

While such a level of fitness seems incomprehensible considering her age, what’s equally as amazing is that she didn’t even begin working out or watching her diet until she was 56. “I was too prissy to exercise.” Only when she saw herself in a swimsuit during a trip to the mall with her sister did she began to rethink her attitude. “We didn’t look too good in those suits,” she recalls.

Nowadays, at 130 pounds with only 10% body fat, Shepherd confidently dons a bikini. And her hard-earned figure even helped her snag first place in her class in the 2008 Tournament of Champions. She was also recently named the oldest female bodybuilder by The Guinness Book of World Records.

Her mantra, “determined, dedicated, disciplined to be fit,” keeps her focused. So, too, do her trainer, former Mr. Universe Yohannie Shambourger, and her husband of 54 years, Colin Shepherd. Her spouse gives her credit for inspiring him to be active as well. “She is a very determined person and she is not only in this for herself; she’s interested in helping other people, including myself. Sometimes I get lazy, but she gets on me. I learned that you are never too old to exercise.”

Indeed, as she eagerly attests, “Age is nothing but a number. I would like to reach out and help people understand the importance of being fit. Do not think of exercise as work,” she observes. “Make it fun. You only live once, so enjoy it. I never want to skip (working out) because I am very happy. It feels great to take care of my body.”

Shepherd’s advice to us is simple: “Find an exercise you know you will do. Make certain you do it every day. And try to leave the junk food alone.” 

Friday
Nov192010

Getting Even More from Exercise

By Patricia Glynn

Many of us, at some point, will contract a case of what is best termed lazy-itis. We’ll want to work out, but we won’t. Our mind knows how beneficial it is, but our body just won’t be willing.

So, how do we overcome this inertia? And how might we also encourage others, namely our members and potential members, to move more—a coup that would increase membership rates, retention, and, in turn, revenues?

One potential solution is Earndit.com, a newly introduced exercise-for-rewards program that’s making a trip to the gym even more worthwhile and appealing.

With Earndit.com, exercisers can boost their bottom line in multiple ways. By tracking workouts through a selection of compatible, personal-tracking devices and applications, including Nike+, Garmin Connect, EveryTrail, and foursquare, gym-goers are able to earn points redeemable for actual products, items like shoes, energy bars, jewelry, and clothing, as well as services (i.e., a personal training consultation) and gift cards.

According to cofounder Andres Moran, a New York-based entrepreneur, “Acquiring points redeemable for products provides the extra little oomph people sometimes need to get off the couch. A lot of people have good intentions; in their minds, they have the desire to exercise, but then at the last minute they’re full of excuses." 

One of the main issues keeping people from being active, Moran believes, involves an inability to delay gratification. “The usual benefits associated with fitness—that is, better health and better appearance—are usually discounted because they are far off,” he explains.

The phenomenon at work, he explains, is known as hyperbolic discounting. Simply put “if you were offered $10 today, versus $20 two months from now, the majority would pick the former. It’s less financially astute, but people typically prefer a reward that comes sooner rather than later.” Therefore, the lack of instantaneous results can thwart motivation, Moran notes.

Alternatively, offering a monetary incentive that’s tangible and more readily acquired is, he says, far more compelling. “What we’re trying to do is give people more immediate gratification, more immediate payoff.” Call it, if you will, a bit of a bribe intended to help you get over the hump.

Moran confirms the project, so far, has been remarkably successful. The site has been operational since the end of March, when it was quietly launched, and feedback, to date, has been quite positive. “We’re going strong and we’re getting lots of encouraging comments from users.” And, already, upwards of $15,000 worth of rewards have been distributed.

The Earndit.com team is eager to partner with the club industry. “Actually, that was the original impetus for the project,” he reveals. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to get rewarded for going to the gym?’ That’s the big opportunity we see in all this.”

Ultimately, a collaboration between Earndit.com and the fitness industry would be especially beneficial for clubs, as it would encourage adherence among current exercisers and would perhaps even be a powerful incentive for non-members to join.

Overall, Moran explains, “We’re trying to get more people to exercise. We’re targeting people like me, people who want to work out, but who maybe sometimes lack the motivation. We’re trying to get them over that hurdle of excuses and we feel that, so far, we’re accomplishing exactly that.” 

Monday
Nov012010

Taking the Essential Steps to Exercise Adherence

By Patricia Glynn

When it comes to adhering to an exercise regimen, why do so many people fail?

According to Michelle Segar, that’s the million-dollar question—and it’s one she’s spent the last two decades trying to answer.

With a Ph.D. in psychology, and master’s degrees in health behavior/health education (M.P.H.) and in kinesiology (M.S.), Segar is a researcher at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. She is also resolutely determined to figure out why individuals have such trouble committing to a fitness routine. In tandem, she’s also working to determine exactly what is required to get people moving in the first place—and what will keep them moving over the long haul.

Thus far, she’s made significant progress and has crafted an eight-week coaching/educational curriculum to address what she deems “a serious problem.” Her intervention method, dubbed Essential Steps, is based on her extensive, comprehensive research. It’s suitable for individuals and corporations alike and has transformed many a couch potato. “Participants in my program,” she reveals, “have increased their activity levels by 61%. And that was, on average, sustained well over 10 to 14 months after the program was finished.” Her results are particularly notable given that “most people, as evidenced by multiple studies, usually abandon exercise within the first six months.”

So how does Segar do it? How does she simultaneously overcome objections toward physical activity while also increasing long-term adherence? And what’s her advice to our own industry for helping clubs boost membership and retention? 

Segar’s first recommendation, and a beginning point in her program, involves reframing one’s approach toward physical activity—how one thinks about it and what role it plays in one’s life.

“In our society, exercise is commonly lauded as something you should do for your health, something you should do to lose weight. Both can certainly be powerful incentives for prompting a person to initiate a fitness regimen, but neither lends well to sustainability. Instead, each makes exercising feel more like a chore.” And who, she rightfully ponders, wants to add yet another chore to their day?

In terms of the latter, using exercise as a weight-loss tool, Segar has, in her studies, found this motive actually leads women to be 30 percent less likely to workout. “It’s really a psychological quagmire, which generally succeeds only in making the person feel badly about themselves.” In reality, she explains, engaging in activity with the intention of trying to reshape the body to meet some unrealistic, potentially unattainable standard (i.e., the impossibly svelte bodies she admits she loathes seeing in health club marketing materials) “undermines motivation.” Activity quickly morphs into a dreaded punishment. It becomes a weapon used to fix one’s seemingly misshaped appearance. And the likely ultimate failure to achieve the ideal physique, especially in a quick fashion, only results in immense frustration—and, as you might expect, abandonment of exercise.

As for the medicinal approach, working out to improve health, Segar believes this motive, too, is faulty. “The Exercise is Medicine initiative is, for clinicians, quite compelling. But for the consumer, it’s simply the wrong message. People often won’t take their medications—and taking a pill is obviously much easier than exercise.” Indeed, studies suggest that, depending on disease and treatment plan, compliance in taking prescribed medications is typically less than 50%. “Health,” posits Segar, “is also really a rather esoteric concept. You could exercise and you might see a health payback—or you may not.” In other words, exercising to prevent a disease you might never get is a recipe for failure as far as adherence is concerned. 

Alternatively, what is compelling for the average consumer, says Segar, are motives based on increasing well-being, motives that enhance day-to-day living.

For Segar, who visits the gym to lift weights, being active is fueled by her desire to effectively care for her child. “I have a young son and I want to be strong enough to pick him up, to engage fully with him. I also go to the gym because it makes me feel like I am taking care of myself. Further, I want to retain my strength and functionality as I age. Those are my motivators—they’re persuasive and they thus promote my dedication to working out regularly.”

Beyond helping people release defeating, appearance-based motives, and encouraging them to not think of movement as a pill they should take, Segar also works to conquer what she feels is another primary barrier that keeps people from exercising: lack of time. Of course, the never-enough-time excuse, as Segar observes, is merely a “smokescreen. Consider a person who sustains exercise over the long-term—they don’t have any more time in their day than their non-exercising peers. Again, it all goes back to ensuring that you have the proper motivation. It boils down to finding a compelling reason to engage in physical activity, a reason that leads you to make it a priority in your busy day.”

A shift must happen, she explains. Exercise needs to become something the person wants to do, rather than something they feel they should do. When the exerciser experiences discernable benefits—some sort of payoff—on an ongoing basis, they will, unsurprisingly, find time.

When speaking to those she’s worked with over the years, Segar always inquires about their commitment. What helped them flip the switch? “Again and again, it’s that they’ve redefined what physical activity means to them. They’ve also shifted their expectations—they’ve taken my mantras, ‘Less is often more,’ and ‘Consistency first, then quantity,’ to heart.”

This approach, admonishing an all-or-nothing mindset, is another key component of Segar’s method. “We’ve taught people this gold-standard way of exercising, but life ebbs and flows. We need to encourage more flexibility.”

Expecting people to wake up at 5 a.m. to complete a 60-90-minute rigorous workout is, she points out, unrealistic. It’s pretty much a surefire way to put them off exercising.

“If you can’t do it the way you think you should, or the way you’ve been told you need to, you’ll probably stop. So I teach people to be more flexible. It’s about doing something when you might otherwise have done absolutely nothing. If all you have is 10 minutes, great—then you just do a couple of exercises.” Don’t, she insists, let good be the enemy of great.

As far as our industry is concerned, Segar feels a rebranding is in order. Clubs are mistakenly using the aforementioned, erroneous motivators (i.e. health and weight loss) as the main hooks. “But,” Segar continues, “that’s passé: it’s the old message.” And it’s also not working effectively, she argues. “We’ve misdirected people. Exercise has been lauded as a sort of ‘holy grail’ and people think, ‘This is what’s going to help me achieve everything I’ve ever wanted—a perfect body and perfect health.’ But the problem is that most people won’t achieve the sculpted look that’s being sold to them and, after failing a few times, they’ll quit.

“It’s all counter-intuitive,” she adds. “Instead of recommending exercise as a way to prevent disease, for example, we ought to be emphasizing it as a means to improve daily life. That approach is far more likely to facilitate long-term participation. Just look at the pharmaceutical industry. The commercials, the drug-to-consumer ads, focus on what is most compelling for people: having energy, being able to enjoy time with family. If we really care about adherence, we need to follow suit by delivering similar images and messages. We need to transform the industry so that it’s about daily well-being and happiness. We need to take our promotion out of a medical paradigm, and out of a beauty paradigm, into a better living paradigm. We’re consistently selling exercise as a chore, when what we ought to be doing is selling it as a gift.” 

On her Website, Segar recommends we all be a bit more creative. She encourages the industry, as well as the medical profession and the government, to create “a more emotionally compelling brand of exercise. Create cool branding that hooks into people’s emotions. We’ve turned (exercise) into one more thing to check off our daily to-do list, instead of something we desire to do.” Ultimately, in order to change people’s bodies, we must first change their minds. 

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com

Monday
Oct182010

Welcome to Namaste Charter School!

By Patricia Glynn

 Today, youngsters are surrounded by food (primarily junk food) at nearly every turn. They’re also moving considerably less than ever before. And because of all this, our children, it seems, are growing—and, unfortunately, they’re expanding outward instead of just upward.

The statistics are grim: as reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity rates among youngsters aged 6 to 11 rose from 6.5% in 1980, to 19.6% in 2008. For adolescents, those aged 12 to 19, the incidence of obesity likewise increased dramatically, rising from 5.0% to 18.1% in the same time frame.

Fortunately, solutions are being developed and innovative leaders are stepping forward to facilitate change. And perhaps unsurprisingly, our industry is also taking steps to help.

One particularly notable project in the battle against childhood obesity began in 2004 in the inner city of Chicago. In the southwest side’s McKinley Park neighborhood, a unique institute was born. Integrating exercise and good nutrition with its rigorous academic curriculum, The Namaste Charter School opened its doors…and opened a new chapter in the lives of a select group of children.

The school was founded by Allison Slade, an educator who now serves as the institute’s principal. She’d witnessed the obesity epidemic, and its consequences, during the years she’d worked as a teacher—such as students “crashing” after eating sugary treats and spending nearly all of their leisure time seated in front of the television. She watched as their health, and subsequently, their grades, plummeted.

Now, alternatively, at Namaste, she watches a very different scenario unfold every day. And it’s one she hopes will be emulated across the nation.

Namaste’s students, approximately 400 of them, ranging from kindergarteners to seventh-graders, arrive each weekday morning at 8:30 via a “walking school bus.” Their 7.5-hour day begins with the Morning Movement exercise regimen (stretches and calisthenics) and a healthy breakfast (fresh fruit, yogurt, and whole wheat bagels). Then the studying begins. Of course, students don’t just sit, listen, and learn at this innovative facility. Because Slade believes in nourishing the mind and body in tandem, academics and movement are taught side by side. Math class, for instance, means doing three jumping jacks, then two more, and then adding them all together to learn the lesson. Further, reciting the alphabet involves mimicking the shape of the letters with their bodies.

Outside the classroom setting, there’s even more activity: one hour of physical education per day, 25 minutes of daily recess, and a weekly 2.2-mile hike to a local park. The fitness also continues long after students return home: a take-home log, monitored by parents, is used to record any extra (highly encouraged) activity.

Interestingly, students at Namaste aren’t just moving more; they’re also being empowered by learning the reasons, and benefits, behind every step they take. They aren’t just blindly following their instructors.

That philosophy—understanding the “why” behind every choice—carries over to the cafeteria as well. To encourage the children to opt for healthier choices (this cohort is, after all, not known for favoring greens), nutrition lessons are incorporated into the curriculum. By learning about healthy foods, as opposed to just placing them within reach, students are, experts have found, more apt to eat them. And so the day’s course might focus on “smart snacking” or “better fast food choices,” while a field trip might entail a visit to a local pumpkin patch. The end result: within three months, the number of students sidling up to the salad bar quadrupled. The cafeteria has also, on more than one occasion, nearly run out of salad.

Also worth mentioning: you will find cookies and chocolate milk here. Namaste is about balance, not deprivation. Indulgent options are indeed available—they are simply served less frequently. Further, any overly-sugary, chemical-filled junk foods that are devoid of nutritional value are, as a rule, always rejected; staff will consistently send back any such deliveries. In other words, according to Slade, you’ll get a gingerbread cookie rather than an Oreo.

Other unique, wellness-centric features of Namaste include family fitness nights, weekly family breakfasts featuring expert speakers, a weekly farmers’ market, and a lending library which loans health-focused books. Slade and her bevy of instructors know wellness begins, and is reinforced, in the home and so parental participation is eagerly embraced and fervently promoted.

The school, thus far, has been an overwhelming success. There’s not only a waiting list to enroll, but, this past June, Namaste was presented with the national Healthy Schools Program recognition award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a partnership of the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association. Moreover, the students’ progress, thus far, has been exceptional: Body Mass Index (BMI), monitored as part of ongoing research by the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago (CLOCC), has, for instance, remained steady or has decreased for most of those who attend. Academically, Namaste’s students have beaten the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) district average by a notable 15 percentage points.

Namaste’s approach is working. And it is, given current circumstances, sorely needed.

Our industry already does so much to enhance the health and wellness of people throughout the world. We now have an opportunity to give to our future health club members and fitness professionals. We can help students have a healthier future. According to Allison Isaacson, Namaste’s development director, there are many ways those in the fitness industry can assist neighborhood schools, including donating gently used fitness equipment, rallying support among clients, and training staff and physical education teachers. For other tips and recommendations, Slade and Isaacson suggest visiting www.namasteshares.org.

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com.

Wednesday
Oct062010

Trick AND Treat: Staying One Step Ahead of Zombies

By Patricia Glynn

It’s October, and Halloween is just around the corner, which begs the obvious question: When the zombies invade (and yes, they are coming!), will you be fit enough to survive?

If you’ve any doubts regarding your ability to outlive the undead, then ZombieFit, a new workout launched by 28-year-old Chicago-based lawyer Rich Gatz, will help ensure that you live to see the dawn.

Inspired by Parkour, the French-born discipline requiring practitioners to overcome any obstacle in their path—be it a sidewalk curb, a fence, or even a building—Gatz’s classes are held twice weekly in the St. Charles suburb of the Windy City. Attracting a mix of men and women, the program, priced at $10 per class, includes a series of rigorous drills that test speed, agility, and strength. Participants might, for example, find themselves lunging, running, jumping, climbing, and/or doing pull-ups. The pace is frantic (as in run-for-your-life); the potential for increasing endurance, functional strength, balance, and coordination is significant. All told, “if you’re ready for the zombie apocalypse,” as Gatz tells the Chicago Tribune, “you’re ready for anything.”

And for those unable to prepare for the zombie onslaught in-person, well, don’t panic: Gatz regularly updates the ZombieFite Website with a detailed workout of the day. The challenging curriculum ensures that enthusiasts the world over may follow along, and benefit, independently. He merely advises his followers, no matter their location, to bear in mind the course guidelines:  “The keys to surviving Z-day are simple: Be able to lift and throw heavy things; be able to run fast and for long distances; and be able to navigate obstacles and urban environments in an efficient manner.”

Not only is ZombieFit an incredible workout, but, thanks to its creative premise, the program is also incredibly motivating. After all, wouldn’t you run a little faster and jump a little higher if ghouls (real or imagined) were hot on your heels? 

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com.

Friday
Sep242010

Hang Zen: Yoga on Surfboards!

By Patricia Glynn

A day out at the beach typically includes lots of sun and sunbathers. There’ll likely be plenty of sand and perhaps even a few sandcastles. Swimmers will, in all probability, immerse themselves in the cool surf. And while it might, at first glance, seem unusual, yoga devotees may shift between poses as they balance on the water. Yes, that’s right—yoga has gone to the fishes!

Yoga is an ancient practice (historians estimate it to be more than 5,000 years old), but it has, courtesy of a number of creative innovators within our industry, undergone a series of modern-day makeovers which have kept it ever-fresh and remarkably trendy. Additionally, the reincarnations, usually quite clever and sometimes rather quirky, go a long way toward boosting interest and motivation for students old and new alike. And for clubs, having happy, engaged clients usually translates into increased revenues. The latest adaptation, paddleboard yoga, has just this sort of potential: it promises to benefit client and facility alike.

The water-based classes, many of which begin with an on-land orientation, are comparable to those conducted within a studio—down dog and tree pose are, like other yoga mainstays, included. The most obvious difference is, of course, the surface underfoot. The 10-foot boards that are used do, as expected, tend to shift quite a bit and so failure to hold a pose means getting wet—very wet! And yet, while it may at first seem considerably more difficult, the practice is, as Jessica Ewart tells the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “easier than we thought” it would be. Indeed, students of all abilities and ages from the Cape Cod, Massachusetts, coastline, to the creeks of Chattanooga, Tennessee, to the lakes of Tahoe City, California, are eagerly clambering atop boards and clamoring to get their Zen on out on the water.

According to Ewart, owner of Zuddhi Yoga, a Chattanooga-based studio that offers the area’s first paddleboard yoga classes, priced $25 per person, per 75-minute-long class (board and paddle included), the curriculum not only becomes more manageable over time once you get your footing, but it’s also really “fun.” Falling into the water, she adds, actually makes the experience more pleasurable. Furthermore, students greatly appreciate the outdoor environment. Then, too, reclining on the boards in corpse pose, the traditional, restful closing posture, is an especially serene experience outdoors, on the water—participants, it seems, savor a moment in which to relax as waves gently rock them.

Paddleboard yoga is, for these reasons and more, fast gaining fans. Ewart’s recent launch, for example, was very well received—more than 20 participants attended the first class. The instructor for that August morning class, Maggie White, remarked on the favorable reception: “Everyone was sharing in (the) fun. Everyone was wobbling; everyone was splashing together.” 

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com.

Friday
Sep102010

Ready to Make a Splash?

By Patricia Glynn

Are you looking to grow your business? Do you want to boost revenues, increase retention, and attract new members? Well, there’s one solution you may want to consider, as it’s proving highly effective for many clubs: just add water.

As the September CBI magazine feature article “Making a Slash!” reveals, club-based aquatic programming has, in recent years, undergone a refreshing, bottom-line-enhancing makeover. Yes, senior-centric water aerobics classes and youth swim lessons are still flourishing staples. But now, more inventive and athletic courses—such as aqua combat, scuba diving, synchronized swimming, triathlon training camps, aqua boot camp, and ZUMBA Splash—are fast becoming popular mainstays and are making the pool the ultimate place to get fit and have fun. Indeed, these sort of fresh, updated offerings, along with the revitalization of more traditional stand-bys, have members and prospects alike eager to suit up and dive in.

One location in particular, Wave House Athletic Club (WHAC) in San Diego, California, is doing quite swimmingly, thanks to its revamped and incredibly innovative aquatics department. The 3,000-member-strong facility, situated on the beach and originally built in 1925, really sets a new standard and offers a little bit of everything: pool parties, aquatic personal training, water polo competitions, mixed-martial-arts-inspired classes, and 10’ high barreling waves ideal for wannabe surfers looking to “hang ten.” Simply put, WHAC, which features a 12,000-square-foot pool, as well as two outdoor artificial surfing simulators, is not only successfully attracting plenty of the traditional pool cohorts (children and seniors), but the site is also drawing, in droves, two commonly underrepresented groups—young adults and the middle-aged.

To find out more about how WHAC is doing it, and to learn how others, too, are getting more members into the pool, check out this month’s issue, available now in your mailbox and online

Friday
Jul302010

Changing Members’ Minds: Enhancing the Power of the Mind/Body Connection


 By Patricia Glynn

In the August issue of CBI magazine (available soon in your mailbox, and online), in the feature article titled “Mind/Body Makes Sense,” I explore the vast, ever-expanding genre of mind/body fitness club programming. From the more traditional offerings, such as yoga, to cleverly crafted innovations, such as Burlates Boudoir Fitness, a seductive coupling of Pilates with burlesque dancing, the options in this category seem virtually endless. And so, too, is the potential for profit.

But success, monetary or otherwise, doesn’t come without due diligence, without “going above and beyond, being different, and stepping out in front to lead.” In order to truly thrive, “being extraordinary,” explains Patricia Moreno, one of the many talented professionals I interviewed for the piece, is absolutely requisite.

 Moreno is the creator of the mindful technique she’s dubbed IntenSati, a combination of dance, aerobics, martial arts, strength conditioning, and yoga, which she currently teaches at New York City-based Equinox Fitness Clubs. Her classes are typically jam-packed, wall-to-wall women and men. Their popularity stems not only from the exceptional passion she infuses into her classes, but also from the inclusion of an element she believes is commonly missing in the gym environment: positive psychology. In Moreno’s case, she’s introduced encouraging verbal affirmations into the workout, thus engaging members’ minds in a wholly new, and ultimately very effective, way. Through her novel approach, she’s helping members reach goals that previously seemed unreachable. And, in the process, she’s also boosting adherence for new and long-term exercisers alike.

  “I had been teaching for 15 years and I loved it. But there came a point when I wanted to reach out to those who hadn’t already bought into fitness and to those who were maybe showing up, but who weren’t getting much out of the experience. I felt like there had to be a way to help those people who were struggling—either they were having a hard time staying committed to working out, or they were watching their weight constantly go up and down.”

While seeking a resolution, Moreno quickly ascertained that the common hyper-focus on diet and exercise alone just wasn’t cutting it. Such a physical-centric method was proving, for the most part, ineffectual. It also wasn’t doing much to inspire her students. Something, she believed, was missing. “I researched motivation techniques. I studied life coaching. And I began looking at the power of meditation and metaphysics. I began to understand how important our thoughts really are. We truly are what we think we are. And so if you can change how you think, the benefits, over time, can be astounding.”

In order to change their bodies, in order to invigorate her clients and take them to the next level, Moreno realized she needed to change their minds. She needed to train their physical body and their spirit in tandem. “I found that, with focused mental awareness and the repetition of a single, powerful, positive statement, people can achieve tremendous things. In fact, they can transform not just their bodies, but even their entire lives.”

 And indeed, her students, those faithfully chanting mantras—such as “I will succeed!”…“All I need is within me now!” and “I am strong!”—during the hour-long class, do find themselves transformed for the better. The vibe, the enthusiasm within the studio, is, she claims, highly infectious. “I’ve seen many participants gain a new sense of hope. They get excited and energized. They start focusing on what they can do and they finally believe they are strong enough to achieve almost anything. They leave behind their limiting thoughts and their self-doubt. I’ve seen that shift. When it happens, they’re able to finally lose those last 10 pounds. They snag the job they once only dreamed of having. They write the book they didn’t think they could write. They enter into relationships they’d always wanted to have but could never seem to achieve. And I know it sounds like a lot—I mean, ‘Wow, all that from an exercise class?’—but when people start believing in themselves, which this class helps them to do, it opens a door. It helps them make the changes they previously were unable to make.” And, as her students succeed, as they achieve their goals, as they keep coming back for more, Moreno and, in turn, Equinox Fitness simultaneously excel.

Of course, as with most new regimens, especially one that’s very much outside the box, there have been doubters. Moreno, however, full of enthusiasm and certain of the effectiveness of IntenSati, quickly assuages her naysayers. “At first, a lot of people, and even clubs, don’t think this will work and don’t want to try it. It’s awkward and different. People don’t feel comfortable shouting out positive statements in the middle of an exercise class. But for those accustomed to talking to themselves in a harsh, critical way—which, unfortunately, is most people—it’s enormously empowering. And once they try it, they are genuinely moved by it. It’s not uncommon for participants to start crying in the middle of a workout.” The marriage of spoken positivity with sweat-inducing movement is, she attests, “a powerful combination. What you say, over and over, becomes belief.”

Ultimately, Moreno would love to see more trainers exploring the principles of life-coaching and hopes mind-shifting work will become ubiquitous throughout the industry. “I want this to be in all gyms, in schools, in rehab facilities—any place where people need a lift.”

Are you and your staff going “above and beyond” by training your members’ bodies and minds?

Patricia Moreno's new book, The IntenSati Method: The Seven Secret Principles to Thinner Peace, is available for purchase online.

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com

Monday
Jul192010

Inspirational ‘Ironwoman’

By Patricia Glynn

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old; we grow old because we stop exercising.”

So proclaimed Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the “father of aerobics” and founder of the esteemed Dallas, Texas-based Cooper Aerobics Center. It’s a decidedly accurate assessment, backed by scientific research. Unfortunately, it’s also one that far too many people elect to ignore. They are, they frequently bemoan, “too old to work out” (among other reasons) and so their bodies, unused, progressively atrophy.

Alternatively, there are those who do heed the warning. By embracing Cooper’s philosophy and remaining active, they successfully stave off the ravages of time and retain superior health.

Harriet Anderson, a grandmother from Northern California, falls, without a doubt, into the latter category. Of course, this 74-year-old former school nurse who, in her spare time, teaches children how to knit, hasn’t simply defied the so-called norms of aging. She has not merely avoided the many ailments so common to her cohort. Rather, by keeping fit, she has built an enviable physique and lives an enthusiastically vigorous life. She has also achieved feats that would be considered extraordinary, even for those who are significantly younger: she has, for example, competed in the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. And she didn’t just compete once—she has raced the challenging course 18 times!

While it might seem incomprehensible for an individual who is nearly eight decades along in her life, Anderson, this past October, once again swam 2.4 miles through the crisply cool ocean waters of Kailua-Kona Bay in Hawaii. Then, after emerging from the waves, she hopped on a bike for a 112-mile spin over hilly terrain and across black lava fields. Continuing on, further still, she covered 26.2 miles in 90-plus-degree heat, the pavement blisteringly hot underneath her feet.

Her 18th Ironman was an amazing accomplishment, to be sure. Yet, what’s even more astonishing is that she completed much of it after having broken her clavicle mid-way through the course. Nearly 80 miles into the biking segment, a fellow competitor knocked against her and Anderson, to her dismay, found herself on the ground. “He didn’t say ‘on your left.’ He just bumped right into me and I went sliding down,” she recalls. While she didn’t know the full extent of the injury at the time, what Anderson did know was that she wasn’t giving up. Injured in body, but with her doggedly determined spirit still firmly intact, she brushed herself off and, after only a 10-minute delay, climbed back in the saddle. She rode another 30-plus miles before transitioning to the marathon portion of the race. This interval would have been an opportune time to visit the medical tent to solicit a proper sling, but Anderson had a race to finish and little time to spare. She opted, instead, for a makeshift fix: a volunteer haphazardly taped her wounded arm against her lean torso. She was, at that point, unable to run. But she was, despite the pain, unwilling to quit.

Eventually, after walking most of the way in the pitch dark, motivated to keep moving by the promise of a warm bowl of chicken soup waiting at each successive aid station, Anderson crossed the finish line. It was 11:53 p.m., just seven minutes before the final deadline. She’d done it yet again. “I was determined to finish,” she says. 

Soon after, Anderson was whisked off to the emergency room. X-rays revealed she’d suffered a broken right clavicle. Yet, while the injury would restrict her training, it certainly wasn’t going to stop her. “At least I’ll be able to Spin,” she informed the attending physician. Her husband, Gary, has learned to appreciate such resolve. “She’s a pretty tough lady,” he told Ironman organizers. “If she’s determined to do something, she’ll just do it. She wasn’t going to sit around and wait.”

Anderson, who has since recovered, might be considered an anomaly, an unusually fit exception, if you will. However, she is, in reality, a testament to the power of fitness. She works out regularly, and she works out hard. Intense dedication has gotten her to where she is. In fact, she rises at 4 o’clock each morning, eager to further hone and care for the body that has served her so well. Twice weekly, she participates in Pilates and Spinning classes. Tuesdays and Thursdays find her in the pool, swimming, and in the yoga studio, on the mat, to enhance her flexibility. Additionally, upwards of three times per week, she runs, hitting the trails close to her home for 14-mile outings. Exercise has been good to her and so she keeps on moving.

Surprisingly, fitness wasn’t always a part of her life. Though she had played tennis in high school, it was only after her children were grown, after they’d moved out on their own, that she first joined a gym. There, she lifted weights and ran. Racing wasn’t something she’d seriously considered until another member suggested she sign up for a 10K. From there, she attempted a half-marathon. Then, she decided to tackle the Honolulu Marathon. And the rest, as is oft said, is history. This year, in October, she intends, for the 19th time, to be at the starting line in Kona.

Anderson truly belies the norm and demonstrates that, as we advance in years, we do not, as society teaches us, need to settle into a rocking chair. We do not have to sit idly by as our bodies betray us.  Movement, as she shows us, can help keep us vital and strong, and it can allow us to exceed the expectations typically associated with aging. For Anderson, age is, in actuality, nothing more than an inconsequential number.

And whether it’s our age or some other limiting, preconceived thought holding us back, Anderson’s achievements, coupled with her astounding motivation, ought to serve as a reminder that we’re capable of so much more. And if your club’s membership (or even you yourself) faces doubts in regard to their ability, perhaps Anderson’s inspirational fortitude will serve as a much-needed catalyst. It’s never too late to join the game (or the gym). And it is possible, in spite of what we might falsely think, to hit it out of the park—further than we ever imagined. Exercise can help us do it.

So, what will your 74th year be like? 

- Patricia Glynn is associate editor of CBI magazine and can be reached at p.glynn@fit-etc.com